Many writers, preachers, and academics have touted the power of thinking positively. There is a giant industry built around self-help books and videos designed to teach us how to overcome negative thinking in order to build a more positive outcome in our lives.
Alison Ledgerwood, a social psychologist at UCDavis, gives an insightful TED talk about the power of negative thinking. In numerous studies, she and her team found that negative thinking exerted an inordinate influence on the opinions and mood of participants.
She found that the negatives have a larger and longer lasting impact than the positives. Negatives tend to stick in our minds more than positives.
Ledgerwood’s findings led her to believe, “Our view of the world tends to tilt toward the negative.” Her conclusion is that we must work harder at managing our thought life so that we can cancel out this negative tendency.
How do we overcome negative thinking patterns?
Here some ideas to help you improve your life by overcoming negative thinking.
Remember the Positives
Repeat the positive stories that you hear and tell your friends about the good things that happen, rather than emphasizing the bad things.
Actively remembering the positive things about your day will help them to loom larger in your mind than any negative things that might have happened.
When you catch yourself going over the negative events of your day, think instead about how you might overcome them and solve the problems they present, and then firmly refuse to dwell on them any longer.
Keep a gratitude journal. Take the time to record all the things that you have to be thankful for. This redirects your brain away from the negative and toward the positive way of thinking.
Be truly thankful for all that is good in your life. Voicing gratitude to God can have a powerful effect on how you think about your life.
Why is positive thinking so important?
Thinking positively really does make a difference. How we think about ourselves determines who we are. To a very large extent, we create our own reality.
I am not imparting any magical properties to our thoughts; I am merely saying that we become who we permit ourselves to become.
Our thoughts precede and fuel our actions. They give us the permission to soar and succeed or they keep us trapped in soul-sucking bitterness and failure.
Instead of imagining the bad things that could happen, visualize the wonderful possibilities that you might otherwise overlook.
Decide now that you will change your way of thinking to cultivate optimism and happiness. Acknowledge the negatives, but don’t allow yourself to dwell on them.
If you catch yourself sitting and thinking about negative things, get up and occupy yourself with something else to try to redirect your attention.
Take a walk, do some housework, or work at something creative. This will help you break the habit of thinking negatively.
What happened today that was good?
Take time daily to recognize the good things that happened that day. Writing these things down can even boost well-being and health.
If Ledgerwood’s conclusions are accurate, it will take time and discipline to correct long-standing habits of negative thinking. Be patient with yourself!
Remember the positives and practice gratitude every day. Overcome negative thinking by washing it away in a flood of thankfulness. You will soon see your attitude, and then your life, changing for the better.
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